Samsung is preparing to launch the Galaxy Note 9 flagship in the second half of this year. Months before the phone’s official unveiling, folks at GizmoChina have shared a fan-made Galaxy Note 9 concept that was originally posted on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. Many were expecting that the Note 9 would be similar to the recently launched Galaxy S9 Plus with an S Pen stylus. But this Galaxy Note 9 concept sets the expectations much higher.
Samsung “reimagined” the camera with the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. It added dual apertures to the wide-angle lens to take crisp photos in both low-light and bright light conditions. As a result, DxOMark crowned the Galaxy S9 Plus as the world’s best smartphone camera, beating the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2. The new Galaxy Note 9 concept envisions not two but three vertically-aligned cameras on the back panel.
The third lens accompanies the wide-angle lens (with variable apertures) and the telephoto lens. The third sensor could be a new wide-angle or monochrome sensor. If Samsung implements the three-lens setup on the back, it would help the Note 9 compete with Huawei’s upcoming P20 Pro, which would feature a triple camera system on the back. The Galaxy Note 9 concept has also replaced the dual-tone LED flash with numerous small LED lights placed on either side of the camera setup. It is aimed at enhancing the lighting.
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There is no fingerprint sensor on the back panel. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said that Samsung has decided not to include the in-display fingerprint reader in the Note 9 due to “technological difficulties.” But the new Galaxy Note 9 concept has the fingerprint scanner placed under the display panel. A circular area towards the bottom of the screen is marked to show where the sensor is.
In terms of design, the Galaxy Note 9 concept has a less rectangular design than its predecessor. The top and bottom bezels have become slimmer than before. The phablet retains the glass and metal design, and features a curved Super AMOLED Infinity display. The heart rate monitor is placed just below the triple-camera setup on the rear panel. There is also a Bixby button on the side.
Meanwhile, sources familiar with the matter told The Investor that Samsung will likely add the in-display fingerprint sensor to the Note 9 flagship. Samsung Display has developed “three or four solutions” for the Note 9. Both Samsung and its sister firm are “seriously considering one of the solutions.” The Korean company will make a final decision on adopting the optical fingerprint solution by the end of this month.
Samsung Display has been working to integrate the fingerprint sensor under the display for years. One of the sources told The Investor that the display firm had “enough time” to improve the in-display fingerprint technology to meet Samsung’s expectations before Galaxy Note 9 launch. Chinese smartphone vendor Vivo has already launched a phone with an optical fingerprint reader supplied by Synaptics.
One major challenge with the optical fingerprint solution is that it still suffers from low yield rates. Samsung will likely be able to resolve other issues such as security, accuracy, and speed in time for the Note 9 unveiling.
Separately, SamMobile reports that Samsung has started developing the firmware for the Galaxy Note 9. The company is working on two Android firmware builds with version numbers N960FXXE0ARB7 and N960FXXU0ARC5. The two firmware versions are for the Snapdragon and Exynos variants of the phablet. The US and China will get the Snapdragon 845 version of Note 9 while the Exynos 9810 version would be sold in the rest of the world.
The Note 9’s firmware development started two weeks before the company started the firmware development process for the Note 8 last year. The Note 8 was unveiled on August 23rd, 2017. It’s unclear why Samsung is developing the firmware earlier than usual. It could be an indication that the Note 9 could launch in late July or early August.
A few days ago, Samsung trademarked the “Note 9” name in Colombia. The trademark filing suggests that the upcoming flagship would be called Galaxy Note 9. The term “Note 9” is associated with smartphones and consumer reports, according to the trademark filing. The term could also be used in the context of batteries, chargers, and type covers for tablets and smartphones.
The Galaxy Note 9 is expected to feature 6GB RAM and run Android Oreo-based Samsung Experience software. It would also be accompanied by an improved S Pen stylus. Samsung’s mobile business chief DJ Koh said at the MWC that the Note 9 would feature an upgraded Bixby 2.0 AI assistant. Samsung is currently beta testing the Bixby 2.0 with about 800 partners worldwide. The improved AI assistant would be able to recognize individual voices and give personalized answers.